Staying on top of market shifts that boost or weaken a brand’s market position is a full-time job. But without that effort, targeting and acquisition performance can suffer. Researching competing brands and applying competitive analysis strategies to your growth and acquisition campaigns can make all the difference.
In theory, it’s simple: Know your target market, your competition, and your products. Specifically, how your products compare to those of your competitors.
In reality, competitive advantage is a moving target because nothing stays the same. Consumers are constantly making choices and competitors are constantly making changes to adapt, keeping brand researchers very busy.
But what if you could confidently identify consumers who are losing affinity for a competitor—or several competitors—instantaneously? You could respond with a personalized campaign just for them. Or deliver special offers that highlight features that make your product better than competitors.
The opposite could apply as well. You could target loyal customers, whose interest in your brand seems to have dropped, with a specific campaign that is both authentic to your brand and targeted to what matters to them.
All of this is possible by using brand research and competitive analysis to strengthen your brand’s presence and share of voice, and create more meaningful relationships with customers, while at the same time positioning yourself strategically to gain market share.
How Brand Research and Competitive Analysis Drives Strategy
At the most basic level, brand research is an analysis that helps brands create, develop, manage, and strengthen a brand. It starts with defining a brand’s personality and validating that the personality resonates with consumers in the market, ultimately serving as the underlying tone and narrative for marketing campaigns and executions.
For example, an outdoors gear company might identify its brand characteristics as eco-conscious with a commitment to diversity and inclusion. To honor these values, the company may create products with only biodegradable materials and launch a global marketing campaign that showcases a diverse community of models wearing them. In-depth brand research can provide insight into how consumers are responding to these products and values and whether the response will translate into growing sales. Or, potentially a rebrand if sentiment towards the campaign is wildly negative.
Another important step is understanding how competitors are defining their brand values, developing and marketing their products, and adapting to market shifts as consumer preferences evolve. This competitive research usually involves data-rich activities such as focus groups, surveys, studies, market research, social listening, and more to gain a full view of the landscape. This wealth of information can strategically drive product development, market positioning, and creative campaign tactics. It allows teams to address weaknesses, or leverage new strengths, with speed and agility.
Real-Time Consumer Interest Data Is an Essential Ingredient in Competitive Research
The fundamentals of competitive analysis are broad and generally include examining the following data points: zip codes, business titles, target audiences, direct and indirect competitors, product comparisons, and market trends. However, access to consumer interest data, in near real-time, is crucial to illuminating the current levels of engagement, online conversations, and attitudes toward a brand or competitor. These trends as they ebb and flow can potentially predict company sales and performance in the long run.
If consumers are frequently reading positive reviews for household products from your brand, as well as ‘best of’ articles in topic areas that include your products, these behaviors could indicate a high brand affinity for your brand and thus require quick action to encourage a purchase or keep them engaged.
Conversely, if consumers are browsing competing brand web pages and frequently interacting with articles that are critical of your brand, you might need to market to those consumers more aggressively or come up with creative ideas to instill a positive perception of your brand. No matter the bucket they land in, consumer interest data augments your research and bolsters your competitive conquesting strategy.
Keep Your Brand Relevant and Top-of-Mind
In a world as fast-moving as ours, brand research and competitive analysis equips you with the knowledge and confidence to battle competitive encroachment, changes in consumer preferences, and demand surges or dips.
To drive these strategies, you can segment potential customers based on their affinity or online interest towards specific brands, sub-brands, or competitor brands. ShareThis offers user-level brand scores that are derived from real-time behavioral data sourced across the global web. These scores represent a user’s affinity towards a range of brands and can be used for ad targeting, analytics, and personalization—allowing you to stand out from the competition and acquire new customers at all the right moments. Not sure how? Don’t hesitate to reach out.